Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon dies at 92
Self-proclaimed messiah Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who turned his Unification Church into a worldwide religious movement, has died aged 92 due to complications from pneumonia.
Moon died Monday at a church-owned hospital near his home in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul. Two weeks earlier, he had been hospitalized with pneumonia, Unification Church spokesman Ahn Ho-yeul told the Associated Press.
Moon’s wife and children were at his side, Ahn said.
The Unification Church claims millions of members worldwide, though church critics say the figure is no more than 100,000.
Sun Myung Moon was born in 1920 in a town now located in North Korea. He said he was 16 when Jesus Christ called upon him to complete his unfinished work. Moon founded his religious movement in Seoul in 1954 following the Korean War.
His church came to the media spotlight in the 1970s and 1980s as Moon held mass weddings of thousands of followers. The preacher matched them up in a bid to build a multicultural religious world.
Accusations were soon voiced that the church was bilking followers out of money, and that its adherents, many young people among them, were brainwashed into joining. The church only said in response that all religious movements faced these kinds of accusations in their early stages.
Later, Moon and the church transformed to a kind of business empire. This included the Washington Times newspaper, the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan and Bridgeport University in Connecticut. In South Korea, a ski resort, a professional soccer team and other businesses were acquired. In North Korea, the church owns a hotel and a fledgling automaker.
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Grooms and brides cheer while taking part in a mass wedding organized by Reverend Sun Myung Moon Unification Church, 16 February 2002, at an indoor Seoul stadium. (AFP Photo/Youn Jae-Wook)